Penn State appeals to Superior Court judge's decision to have litigation against insurer play out in Philadelphia

By Jon Campisi | May 14, 2012

Pennsylvania State University is appealing to the state’s Superior Court a decision by a Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judge to have litigation involving the school’s insurance carrier play out in Philadelphia.

Bellefonte, Pa. lawyer Joseph P. Green, one of the attorneys representing the central Pennsylvania university, filed the notice of appeal May 9 at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.

Penn State is appealing to the state’s top-tier appellate court an April 11 decision by Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Arnold New, which granted a motion by Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association Insurance Company to coordinate and transfer to the trial court in Philadelphia a lawsuit the school filed against the insurance agency relating to a sex-abuse scandal.

The insurer had filed its own lawsuit against Penn State back in January in which PMA seeks declaratory judgment that would limit its defense costs and indemnity for which Penn State could claim coverage in a separate civil suit the university is facing by an alleged victim of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

Attorneys for Penn State filed their civil action against the insurance company after PMA’s initial January lawsuit. That lawsuit alleges bad faith and breach of contract relating to the company’s alleged coverage denial.

The university wanted to have that litigation, as well as the one initiated by PMA, play out in Centre County, which is about a three-and-a-half-hour drive from Philadelphia.

First came New’s April 11 ruling, which granted PMA’s request to have the follow-up suit initiated by Penn State transferred to Philadelphia.

A second judicial ruling, this one filed April 20 by Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Gary Glazer, denied Penn State’s subsequent motion to transfer all legal proceedings to the Centre County Court of Common Pleas.

New’s decision is the one being challenged in Superior Court.

New had ruled that the two suits should be played out in Philadelphia because, first, they mirror each other, meaning many of the issues to be addressed would be redundant, and second, the insurance carrier was the party to file first.

On May 11, the case docket shows, New issued an order to Penn State’s attorneys to file a “self-contained and intelligible statement of the errors you actually intend to raise on appeal to the Superior Court.”

The university’s lawyers were ordered to submit that information to the court by June 1.


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